Advertising is Changing Rapidly, but Great Storytelling Remains the Star

by Robert Jenkyn

Technology is rapidly changing the world of advertising. Lines between traditional and digital media are blurring, dramatically shifting the ways messages are bought and sold, created, delivered and measured.

The influx of smartphones and tablets into the marketplace has created new consumer behaviour: "multi-screening," or the use of multiple screens simultaneously, has become the new norm. In fact, according to Microsoft Advertising’s new Cross Screen Engagement Study (CSES 2013), seven out of 10 Canadians now use a second device in some capacity while watching television.

While media multitasking is great for consumers, it’s a challenge for advertisers. Peoples’ attention is divided across screens and we are constantly searching for new, innovative ways to reach these increasingly fragmented audiences. Advertisers must take a multi-layered approach, focusing on relevant and authentic content. Moreover, the content must be portable and distributed across multiple platforms such as desktops and laptops, tablets, mobile phones and even gaming consoles.

It’s no longer enough to buy a 30-second spot on The Big Bang Theory and expect to reach your audience. Advertisers need to actively consider the multitude of devices that consumers are using. We must look for days to deliver valued content that resonates on each platform and device.

This means taking a holistic view of your content strategy, adjusting advertising to fit the consumer’s multi-screen behaviour, and the context of how they use each device. For instance, in the morning consumers tend to be more task-focused and in the evening hours, simultaneous screen usage kicks into high gear. It’s important to tailor your campaign to align with these trends.

Eighty-seven percent of consumers enjoy being able to check out products or brands at their leisure (CSES 2013), so we know that multi-screening consumers are open to the right kind of advertising, delivered on the right device at the right time. However, even if the ad is delivered at the right place and the right time, it still has to speak to the audience.  Advertisers must remember that technology is only a means to an end, and for consumers, the story will always be the star.

Digital far outshines traditional media in its ability to offer in-depth, interactive brand experiences–allowing people to engage with brands on social media, online video and mobile—but the pressure is on for advertisers to create compelling and memorable experiences. 

A great multi-screen strategy can ensure advertisers reach consumers wherever they are, no matter what they are doing. By using multiple platforms, advertisers can also build consistent and cohesive experiences from the ground up, giving companies the ability to reach incredibly targeted audiences.

Still, we must always remember to keep coming back to the consumer: listening to their needs and desires, their dislikes and concerns, and always putting them first. Through native advertising experiences on mobile devices, gaming consoles, smartphone apps, Skype and web browsing, advertisers can deliver the most relevant message to the right audience, but we must keep striving to tell brand stories in the most unique, personal and interesting ways.

At its core, great advertising is great storytelling. It surprises and delights audiences while remaining relevant, memorable and unobtrusive.

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Robert Jenkyn

Robert Jenkyn

Robert joined Microsoft Advertising’s leadership team in December 2012. He leads the Creative Solutions team that drives technology-driven digital marketing solutions to help Canada’s best brands to deliver an exceptional consumer experience. Robert has over 22 years of experience as leader in media advertising, sales, research, strategy, and account growth with a strong focus on the digital... more

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